I was slow in developing an appreciation for good coffee. For much of my life I favored quantity over quality. I drank gallons of the cheap institutional coffee served up in my firm’s break room, starting when I arrived in the morning and not quitting until I went home at night. Very often I’d put on a pot at 7 or so, when all the right-thinking people had already gone home to their families, and drink the entire thing. I was hooked on it and it kept me wired.
Eventually my stomach couldn’t take it any more and on doctor’s orders I quit cold turkey. That lasted a year or so until I ended up on a case that required me to travel to Brazil a lot. Overnight flights meant I was usually tired and groggy when I was there, so I allowed myself to partake of the delicious little demitasses of rich dark espresso that were brought into our meetings every couple of hours. At first I only went off the wagon when I was in Brazil, but soon I was back into my old drink-it-all-the-time practice.
Only after I left that world and moved to the farm full-time did my coffee drinking practices change. It’s just not practical to drink coffee all day while doing farm work, and I felt no desire to do so. For the past few years I’ve had one good cup of cafe con leche in the morning and none after that.
And now I’ve gotten used to the good stuff. I don’t have any interest in pots of Folgers anymore.
Of course a bag of coffee lasts a long time when you only drink one cup a day. For quite a while now I’ve been enjoying a great coffee that my daughter brought home from a study abroad program she did in Guatemala last year. But with that almost gone, it was time to restock. So yesterday I bought a bag of freshly roasted and freshly ground Ethiopian coffee from our coffee-vending friends at the farmers market. Even still in the bag it has an amazing aroma that filled the house.
We’ve made the decision to only buy tea, coffee and chocolate that is certified fair trade. It only costs a little more per cup to buy fair trade coffee. These kind of third-party certifications aren’t ideal, but with so much distance between the growers and the users, I know of no other way to assure that that we aren’t contributing to the profits of corporations that are unfair to growers and workers. Fortunately for us our friends at the market share that ethic, so we’re able to buy fair trade and help support their business as well.
Imagine what might happen if our coffee-loving culture decided en masse to buy only fair trade coffee. In short order, all coffee would be fair trade. In short order, all coffee growers and workers would be treated fairly. We’d get great coffee, while help making the world a better place. That would be a win-win.